The cat woke me up around 3 AM and I have not been able to get back to sleep, not even after laying in bed for an hour and a half with my eyes closed. There’s a breeze in my room, but the heat still makes it kind of uncomfortable and my mind, frankly, is just too busy, wandering back and forth between a student who emailed me not just to complain about her grade, but actually to blackmail me into giving her the grade she wants, and some other work-related tensions from which I have not yet been able to free myself. Since the student is threatening to grieve the grade if I don’t do what she wants, I don’t want to say more than I have already said, and I’m not going to write about the other stuff since it gets a little personal and it doesn’t really belong on my very public blog.
Anyway, since I couldn’t sleep, I decided to get up and read a bit, and I picked up a book I have been making my way through very slowly this year: Salmon: A Journey in Poetry, 1981 – 2007, which was given to me by the editor, Jessie Lendennie, the founder and managing editor of Salmon Poetry. I doubt she will remember the conversation we had at the AWP conference in 2007 about running a reading series – which I was doing at the time as Nassau Community College’s Creative Writing Coördinator – but I was always grateful that, as I was about to leave her table at the book fair, she just handed me a copy of this anthology, without asking for payment. It’s taken me six years to finally pick it up and it’s a wonderful collection, made up of several poems each from all the poets Salmon Poetry had published to that point.
This morning, I happened to turn, very appropriately, to the poem “Why Do You Stay Up So Late?” by Marvin Bell and these lines struck me:
If I die here they will say I died writing.
Never mind the long day that now shrinks backward.
I crumple the light and toss it into the wastebasket.
I pull down the moon and place it in a drawer.
A bitter wind of new winter drags the dew eastward.
I dig in my heels.
And on that note, I am going to try to get a little of sleep before I really have to be out and about for the day.